The Artist Birthday Series

Jacopo Pontormo

Today’s Artist Birthday: Jacopo Pontormo


Jacopo Carucci (May 24, 1494 – January 2, 1557), usually known as Jacopo da Pontormo, Jacopo Pontormo or simply Pontormo, was an Italian Mannerist painter and portraitist from the Florentine School. His work represents a profound stylistic shift from the calm perspectival regularity that characterized the art of the Florentine Renaissance. He is famous for his use of twining poses, coupled with ambiguous perspective; his figures often seem to float in an uncertain environment, unhampered by the forces of gravity.

Self portrait by Jacopo Pontormo, c. 15
Self portrait by Jacopo Pontormo, c. 1540

Jacopo Carucci was born at Pontorme, near Empoli, to Bartolomeo di Jacopo di Martino Carrucci and Alessandra di Pasquale di Zanobi. Orphaned at a young age, the Renaissance historian Vasari relates how, the “young, melancholy and lonely boy,” was shuttled around as a young apprentice, foreshadowing his legendary temperament: “Jacopo had not been many months in Florence before Bernardo Vettori sent him to stay with Leonardo da Vinci, and then with Mariotto Albertinelli, Piero di Cosimo, and finally, in 1512, with Andrea del Sarto, with whom he did not remain long, for after he had done the cartoons for the arch of the Servites, it does not seem that Andrea bore him any good will, whatever the cause may have been.

Self portrait by Jacopo Pontormo, 1525
Self portrait by Jacopo Pontormo, 1525

Pontormo painted in and around Florence, often supported by Medici patronage. A foray to Rome, largely to see Michelangelo’s work, influenced his later style. Haunted faces and elongated bodies are characteristic of his work. An example of his early style is a fresco depicting the Visitation of the Virgin and St Elizabeth, with its dancelike, balanced figures, painted from 1514 to 1516.

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